Podcast: Modafinil / Provigil

Modafinil / Provigil garnered FDA approval as therapy for excessive daytime sleepiness related to narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea and sleep disorders associated with rotating work shifts.  In spite of these relatively limited authorized indications, more than 90% of prescriptions for Modafinil / Provigil are for so called “off label” indications.

Modafinil / Provigil remains an unexplored but popular therapy for Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, bipolar disease, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.  Among the other popular uses for Modafinil / Provigil are ADHD, fatigue associated with mood disorders and lethargy resulting from antipsychotic drugs.

Modafinil / Provigil gained popularity as a “smart pill” supposedly able to delay sleep and allow increased focus on school or work projects.  Even the armed forces approve its use for troops on missions requiring heightened vigilance with little time for sleep.  Unlike some pills Modafinil / Provigil does not impair judgment, thinking or motor skills.

Recent warnings especially from the European Medicines Agency – sort of the FDA of the entire European Union – suggest caution with Modafinil / Provigil.  Reports link it to a number of life threatening side effects including multi-organ hypersensitivity reactions, heart rhythm disturbances and sudden cardiac death.

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